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31 May 2017

Compiled by Fellows of the UKTPO

Brexit will leave many areas of UK policy open to change. International trade policy is among the most important of these for UK prosperity and also among the most immediate because the status quo cannot simply be extended. This is the sixth in a series of blogs reporting what the major political parties say about trade policy in their 2017 manifestos, as they become available.

The UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) has set out a series of issues that it believes should be considered in any election manifesto that might form the basis of the UK’s future trade policy. The table below checks whether or not the SNP Manifesto mentions these important elements explicitly or implicitly. Following that, we offer a brief commentary on the treatment of trade policy in the manifesto. (more…)

May 31st, 2017

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26 May 2017

Compiled by Fellows of the UKTPO

Brexit will leave many areas of UK policy open to change. International trade policy is among the most important of these for UK prosperity and also among the most immediate because the status quo cannot simply be extended. This is the fifth in a series of blogs reporting what the major political parties say about trade policy in their 2017 manifestos, as they become available.

The UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) has set out a series of issues that it believes should be considered in any election manifesto that might form the basis of the UK’s future trade policy. The table below checks whether or not the UKIP Manifesto mentions these important elements explicitly or implicitly. Following that we offer a brief commentary on the treatment of trade policy in the manifesto. (more…)

May 26th, 2017

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24 May 2017

Compiled by Fellows of UKTPO

Brexit will leave many areas of UK policy open to change. International trade policy is among the most important of these for UK prosperity and also among the most immediate because the status quo cannot simply be extended. This is the fourth in a series of blogs reporting what the major political parties say about trade policy in their 2017 manifestos, as they become available.

The UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) has set out a series of issues that it believes should be considered in any election manifesto that might form the basis of the UK’s future trade policy. The table below checks whether or not the Green Party Manifesto mentions these important elements explicitly or implicitly. Following that we offer a brief commentary on the treatment of trade policy in the manifesto.

A central aim of the Green Party is for the UK to remain in the EU, or at least in the single market. The former implies no change to current trade policies and hence little need to discuss them in the manifesto. Thus their coverage of trade policy beyond that with the EU is restricted to human rights and social and environmental conditions.

(more…)

May 24th, 2017

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19 May 2017

Compiled by Fellows of UKTPO

Brexit will leave many areas of UK policy open to change. International trade policy is among the most important of these for UK prosperity and also among the most immediate because the status quo cannot simply be extended. This is the third in a series of blogs reporting what the major political parties say about trade policy in their 2017 manifestos, as they become available.

The UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) has set out a series of issues that it believes should be considered in any election manifesto that might form the basis of the UK’s future trade policy. The table below checks whether or not the Conservative Manifesto mentions these important elements explicitly or implicitly. Following that we offer a brief commentary on the treatment of trade policy in the manifesto. (more…)

May 19th, 2017

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18 May 2017

Compiled by Fellows of UKTPO

Brexit will leave many areas of UK policy open to change. International trade policy is among the most important of these for UK prosperity and also among the most immediate because the status quo cannot simply be extended. This is the second in a series of blogs reporting what the major political parties say about trade policy in their 2017 manifestos, as they become available.

The UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) has set out a series of issues that it believes should be considered in any election manifesto that might form the basis of the UK’s future trade policy. The table below checks whether or not the Liberal Democrats’ Manifesto mentions these important elements explicitly or implicitly. Following that we offer a brief commentary on the treatment of trade policy in the manifesto.

The central plank of the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto is remaining in the single market and the customs union. This implies no change to current trade policies and hence little need to discuss them in the manifesto. Thus their coverage of trade policy is rather sparse. (more…)

May 18th, 2017

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16 May 2017

Compiled by Fellows of UKTPO

Brexit will leave many areas of UK policy open to change. International trade policy is among the most important of these for UK prosperity and also among the most immediate because the status quo cannot simply be extended. This is the first in a series of blogs reporting what the major political parties say about trade policy in their 2017 manifestos, as they become available.

The UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) has set out a series of issues that it believes should be considered in any election manifesto that might form the basis of the UK’s future trade policy. The table below checks whether or not the Labour Party Manifesto mentions these important elements explicitly or implicitly. Following that we offer a brief commentary on the treatment of trade policy in the manifesto.

(more…)

May 16th, 2017

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Michael Gasiorek12 December 2019

Michael Gasiorek is Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex and a Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. Nicolo Tamberi is a Research Assistant in Economics for the UK Trade Policy Observatory. 

Following Brexit, and assuming the UK is no longer part of a customs union with the EU, the UK will be able to sign free trade agreements (FTAs) with third countries. Indeed, the Conservative manifesto aims to have 80% of UK trade covered by FTAs within three years. This is clearly unrealistic, because it would require signing agreements with more than 12 countries within a time-scale which has rarely been achieved for a single agreement.  The objective, however,  highlights that, post-Brexit, there will be a lot of focus on trying to sign FTAs. Other than the somewhat significant matter of signing an agreement with the EU, top of the UK’s FTA wish list is an agreement with the US. (more…)

December 12th, 2019

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11 December 2019

In the lead up to the General Election, we have analysed the manifestos of the five main political parties and what they imply for future UK trade.

Overall, we find that the manifestos in this General Election are incoherent and vague on trade and contain several unachievable targets. (more…)

December 11th, 2019

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Image 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.

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 4th, 2019

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Download Briefing Paper 23

Briefing Paper 23 – October 2018

Ilona Serwicka and Nicolo Tamberi

Key points

Introduction

The nature of inward FDI to the UK

The industrial profile of FDI

What are the most common source countries of investment in the UK?

Why do different firms want to invest here?

How strong is the UK’s performance in attracting FDI compared to other European countries?

The impact of the Brexit vote on inward foreign investment to the UK

Political uncertainty: timeline of Brexit

FDI in the lead-up to and after Brexit: performance of the ‘real’ and ‘synthetic’ UK

FDI cost of Brexit to date across sectors: manufacturing and services

Has the Brexit vote disrupted investment by supply chain multinational firms?

Conclusion

References

Note on the Data

Online Appendix

Key points

The UK continues to perform strongly in attracting inward foreign investment, and remains one of the largest recipients of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Europe and globally. In 2017, there were close to 1,000 greenfield investment projects announced for the UK: these created approximately 60,000 new jobs and were valued at just over US$ 33 billion.

The UK’s strength lies in the services sector: the areas with the largest number of individual FDI projects include software & IT services, business services and financial services.

However, in 2017, the UK was overtaken by Germany as the largest European recipient of FDI, with France also gaining ground. The UK share of EU28 FDI has fallen from some 25 per cent in early 2015 to some 18 per cent in late 2017.

Since the EU referendum, inflows of FDI to the UK have followed a downward trend: the longest continuous decline since the beginning of the data series in 2003.

Our analysis shows that the Brexit vote may have reduced the number of foreign investment projects to the UK by some 16-20 per cent. For services FDI, the gap is even larger: investment may be some 25 per cent lower than if the UK had voted to remain in the EU.

While investments continue to flow into the UK, there is a decline in investment in sectors such as ‘software publishing’, ‘investment management’ and ‘retail banking’. These are high-value-added industries, so the threat of Brexit has put high-skilled jobs at risk. (more…)

October 31st, 2018

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