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11 March 2022

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

President Biden announced today that the US, the EU, and the G7 countries (which includes the UK) will be suspending Russia’s Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status at the World Trade Organization (WTO). In this blog we look at what this actually means for the UK and what the potential trade implications are for the UK. (more…)

March 11th, 2022

Posted In: UK - Non EU

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13 January 2022

Image of Alan WintersL. Alan Winters is Professor of Economics and Founding Director of UK Trade Policy Observatory and Bernard Hoekman is Professor of Global Economics, European University Institute and Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory

It is widely accepted that international economic relations depend upon a smoothly functioning multilateral trading system. That trading system, institutionally underpinned by the World Trade Organization (WTO), can both stimulate economic activity and help to promote international cooperation in spheres such as climate change and migration. However, the WTO is becoming less relevant to a world in which services account for a growing share of trade, interest in environmental regulation (notably on CO2 emissions) is growing, and digital technology is reshaping our lives.

These issues impinge directly on international trade and thus fall within the broad remit of international rulemaking in the WTO. However, decision making in the WTO typically requires consensus from all the Members, which is difficult to achieve when Members have different ideas about what the appropriate rules for dealing with such challenges are. Thus, not only has it become difficult for countries to agree on how to move forward, but these differences are creating new tensions in the global trading system.

One solution that would help to overcome the impasse is to facilitate those within the WTO who want to change particular rules to proceed among themselves by signing so-called ‘plurilateral’ agreements. The WTO foresees two types of plurilateral agreements, depending on whether what is agreed applies on a discriminatory or non-discriminatory basis. (more…)

January 13th, 2022

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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10 December 2021

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

China acceded to the World Trade Organisation twenty years ago. Yet despite being a member of the international trading club for two decades, China’s ‘role’ in the trading system continues to generate controversy  across a range of areas such as the alleged support to state-owned enterprises boosting their international competitiveness, restrictions on foreign direct investment in China and the ineffective intellectual property protection in China. In addition, and sometimes conflated with trade, there are technology-related security concerns and human rights abuses, notably with regard to the Uyghurs. The Covid-19 pandemic has also raised worries in some quarters about the vulnerability of supply chains, including over-reliance on particular suppliers such as China in critical sectors. (more…)

December 11th, 2021

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5 September 2019

Guest blog by Professor Yong-Shik Lee is Director and Professorial Fellow of the Law and Development Institute and Hiram H. Lesar Distinguished Visiting Professor in Law, Southern Illinois University School of Law.

In the last eighteen months, President Trump has re-introduced the use of national security arguments to restrict the USA’s international trade for commercial reasons. I recently warned[1] that the US use of security arguments to justify its additional tariffs on steel and aluminum imports would create a dangerous precedent, and shortly after that, another major trading nation has indeed followed this precedent. (more…)

September 5th, 2019

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15 July 2019

Dr Michael Gasiorek is a Senior Lecturer in 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. 

A favourite band (of at least one of the authors of this blog) from the 1980s was the Cocteau Twins (See, or rather listen to…Sugar Hiccup) – well-known for the dreamy unintelligibility of their lyrics.  Which of course leads to the dreamy unintelligibility of some of the promises being made around Brexit. Supporters of Brexit have argued that the UK need not be overly concerned with a ‘No deal’ Brexit. This ranges from positions that ‘No deal’ would not be “as frightening as people think” although there would be “some hiccups in the first year” (David Davies), and that although there may be “some disruption” Britain would “survive and prosper without a deal” (Jeremy Hunt), to arguments that the idea that ‘No deal’ would have a negative impact were “a fantasy of fevered minds” (Jacob Rees Mogg). (more…)

July 15th, 2019

Posted In: UK- EU

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Erika Szyszczak26 June 2019

Erika Szyszczak is a Research Professor in Law at the University of Sussex and a Fellow of UKTPO

The Dispute Mechanism Systems (DMS) in many trade agreements have lain dormant because countries preferred to use the World Trade Organization (WTO), with its Appellate mechanisms, as the forum to resolve international disputes. This may change in the coming years as the confidence in, and reliability of the WTO, is slowly paralysed by the disruptive attitude of the United States. One question that emerges is whether the use of EU dispute resolution mechanisms offer a faster and clearer approach towards dispute resolution and might serve as a model for future regional trade treaties. (more…)

June 26th, 2019

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Photo of Emily Lydgate19 September 2018

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

In its Chequers White Paper, the UK government has proposed that, in order to facilitate a frictionless border, it will operate a dual customs regime known as a Facilitated Customs Arrangement (‘FCA’). By replacing rules of origin checks at the EU-UK border with internal monitoring, the FCA requires firms to establish ‘robustly’ the destination of their products to ensure that correct duties have been applied, and then, if they wish, to seek rebates if they have been overcharged. Past UKTPO blogs have addressed logistical challenges and strategic downsides of this ‘Fantastically Complicated Alternative’ (see also Does the Chequers Agreement provide any steps to Brexit heaven?)

But would it be compatible with the rules of the World Trade Organization? The precise details of the FCA’s operation remain unclear. Barring a dispute, it’s not possible to settle the question definitively, but the FCA does prima facie pose a risk of WTO non-compliance. We presume that the UK government has undertaken some analysis of this, and that it covers (at least) the following issues. (more…)

September 19th, 2018

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3 August 2018

Photo of Emily LydgateDr 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…)

August 3rd, 2018

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Image of Alan Winters1 June 2018

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

President Trump threatened them two months ago and invited various countries to avoid them by agreeing ‘voluntarily’ to curtail their exports to the USA. Korea, Argentina, Australia and Brazil agreed to do so but, to their credit, Canada, the European Union and Mexico did not, and so face 25 percent tariffs from today. (more…)

June 1st, 2018

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Photo of Emily Lydgate7 December 2017

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

How can the UK uphold its commitment to leaving the EU Single Market and Customs Union while also preserving the invisible intra-Irish border? Leaving aside crucial questions of political feasibility, this post looks at some of the options and their trade and border implications. Notably, there are limits to ‘flexible and creative’ solutions that involve turning a blind eye to customs and regulatory checks solely on the intra-Irish border: trade rules leave little room for such ad hoc approaches. (more…)

December 7th, 2017

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