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21 May 2020

Michael Gasiorek is Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex and Julia Magntorn Garrett is a Research Officer in Economics at the University of Sussex. Both are Fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

Let’s start at the very beginning…

Suppose a country was (more or less) starting from scratch with its trade policy, and anticipated wanting to sign future trade agreements with other countries. What might you want from that country’s tariff structure? At the end of the day it is important to remember that tariffs are discriminatory taxes (i.e. they discriminate against foreign suppliers) which reduce competition, distort markets and lower national welfare. So, aiming to get to low (zero) tariffs is a good objective. But there may also be some other considerations. Here are some guidelines: (more…)

May 21st, 2020

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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7 May 2020

Dr Anna Jerzewska is an independent customs and trade consultant, and Associate Fellow of the UKTPO.

While the world battles the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK Government’s decision not to request an extension to the transition period means that the UK and the EU have only eight months until 31st December 2020 to complete the talks on the future trading relationship. If a trade deal is not agreed by 1 January 2021 the Northern Ireland Protocol will take effect. The Protocol, which forms part of the Withdrawal Agreement, determines how the Irish border will work in the absence of agreement at the end of the transition period. A Joint Committee, a body established within the Withdrawal Agreement, is charged with, amongst other things, deciding how the Protocol will be implemented. The deadline for making these decisions is therefore fast approaching. (more…)

May 7th, 2020

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Image of Alan Winters9 December 2019

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

Our analysis finds that under the UK-EU Protocol on Northern Ireland, about 75% of Northern Ireland’s imports of goods from other locations, including Great Britain, would be subject to EU tariffs on their arrival in Northern Ireland. This is not easily reconciled with the government’s assertion that Northern Ireland remains within the UK customs territory.

Under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement’s Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland’s imports from the EU, including the Republic of Ireland, would face no tariffs. Among imports from elsewhere, the Protocol requires that any goods deemed at risk of moving to the European Union should be subject to the tariffs of the EU rather than those of the UK.

Relying on a a range of statistical data and informed assumptions, the analysis breaks Northern Ireland’s imports down according to the risk criteria in the Protocol and finds that about 82% of Northern Ireland’s imports from non-EU countries and approximately 64% of imports from Great Britain would face EU tariffs. Summing the contributions to Northern Ireland’s imports from the EU (25% of the total), the rest of the world (12%) and Great Britain (63%) suggests that, overall, around 75% of all Northern Irish imports will pay the EU tariff on entering the province.

While goods that are proved to have been sold to final buyers in Northern Ireland can have any EU tariff they have paid rebated, those rebates are likely to be difficult for the private sector to claim and are therefore unlikely to refund much tariff revenue.

Further, since Northern Ireland’s imports from the EU would not face any change under the Protocol but a large share of imports from Great Britain may newly face tariffs, it seems likely that, over time, Great Britain may lose market share in Northern Ireland, both to domestic supply and to increasing imports from the EU.

Further, a Free Trade Agreement between the UK and the EU would not completely avoid the problem. While goods produced in Great Britain exported to Northern Ireland and transiting on to the Republic of Ireland would face no tariffs, they would still need to satisfy rules of origin to prove that they had been produced in Great Britain. Hence there would still be administrative hurdles for such exports to jump.

The analysis was commissioned by the Good Law Project, who explain its context and also provide a link to the evidence.

Disclaimer:
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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The UK Trade Policy Observatory believes in the free flow of information and encourages readers to cite our materials, providing due acknowledgement. For online use, this should be a link to the original resource on our website. We do not publish under a Creative Commons license. This means you CANNOT republish our articles online or in print for free.

December 9th, 2019

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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24 October 2019

Michael Gasiorek is Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex and a Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. 

There has been some discussion that the unique arrangements outlined in the Protocol on Northern Ireland within the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU mean that Northern Ireland may get the best of both worlds – tariff-free access to both the EU Single Market and the UK market. This is because Northern Ireland will remain in the UK’s customs territory, however, for trade between Northern Ireland and the EU (and therefore the Republic of Ireland) the EU’s Union Customs Code will apply, with no tariffs or other restrictions. Northern Ireland will also remain within the EU’s single market for agriculture and manufactured goods.

The aim of this blog is to think through this carefully. (more…)

October 24th, 2019

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14 October 2019

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…)

October 14th, 2019

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Image of Alan Winters10 December 2018

L. Alan Winters CB, Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory 

The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration are being presented as a means to end the uncertainty about the UK’s future relationship with Europe. But in an explainer for the ESRC’s UK in a Changing Europe, Professor L Alan Winters argues that this is not the case. Uncertainty will continue regardless of what happens to the Withdrawal Agreement.

Briefly, he argues that, if the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by Parliament and the EU:

  • The backstop it mandates requires a customs union between the UK and the EU and that most EU regulations for goods will apply in Northern Ireland. However, there is no regulatory alignment between the rest of the UK and the EU and so, if the backstop came into operation, there would be border formalities both in the Irish Sea and as UK goods entered the EU via any other route.
  • Negotiating a trade agreement with the EU will take a lot longer than the 21 months allowed for it in the Withdrawal Agreement, not least because every EU member state has a veto over trade agreements.
  • The Political Declaration that defines the parameters for that negotiation is imprecise in critical places and is, anyway, non-binding.

However, neither would rejecting the Withdrawal Agreement resolve the uncertainty. There is a wide range of possible outcomes all but one of which impose serious economic harm and/or require further negotiation. The option that involves least uncertainty and cost would be to remain within the EU; however, trying to achieve that outcome involves both significant political risks and the risk of ‘no deal’ if the attempt failed.

‘Through a glass, darkly’ is biblical – 1 Corinthians 13:12 – and is interpreted as meaning that we can see only imprecisely and via a mirror, but that, in the end, all will become clear. Seems about the best we can hope for.

Read the full article, What are the options for the UK’s trading relationship with the EU after Brexit?

December 10th, 2018

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01 October 2018

Dr Ingo Borchert is Senior Lecturer in Economics, and Dr Peter Holmes is a Reader in Economics, both are fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. 

The UK Government is currently proposing to the EU, broadly speaking, to adopt a common rulebook for goods.  By contrast, not much if anything is sought in the realm of services, let alone movement of people or other areas of the Single Market.  Part of the EU’s response has been that goods and services are so interlinked that one cannot have a goods only single market.  Is this response just posturing as part of the negotiations process, or are there real issues with separating goods and services? (more…)

October 1st, 2018

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Photo of Emily Lydgate27 July 2018

Dr Emily Lydgate is a lecturer in Law at the University of Sussex and a fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

The July UK White Paper on the future relationship with the EU calls for a ‘common rule-book’ for goods. This has sometimes been shorthanded as a proposal for a Single Market for goods (in contrast to services, which departs more dramatically from the status quo).[1]

But the scope of regulation the UK proposes should fall within this ‘common rulebook’ is narrower than what would be covered in a Single Market for goods – as the EEA Agreement demonstrates. It’s narrower even than that covered by the EU-Ukraine DCFTA Agreement.

So what does the common rule-book cover – and how might this match up with the EU’s regulatory ‘ask’ of the UK? (more…)

July 27th, 2018

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9 July 2018

Dr Michael Gasiorek is Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Sussex and Managing Director of InterAnalysis. He is a Fellow of the UKTPO.

In good part, the answer depends on the extent to which this agreement moves on from the Government’s previous position, is feasible, is credible, and is acceptable to the EU. It also depends on whether it will be acceptable to the Conservative party, which the resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson throw into serious doubt.

In this blog, I focus on one aspect of this –  the extent to which the “facilitated customs arrangement” (FCA), which is central to the agreement notionally reached at Chequers, is substantively different from the previous idea of a “New Customs Partnership” (NCP). (more…)

July 10th, 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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