Department of Economics

International Trade

We have a long-standing tradition of research in international trade and trade policy, addressing important questions about the drivers and effects of international trade in goods and services, as well as the design and implications of trade policy, regional integration and the world trading system.

Our ongoing research, encompassing extensive empirical work as well as contributions to theory, continues to inform trade policy and shed light on wider issues relating to poverty, development, migration, productivity, as well as the boundaries of the firm and engagement in value chains.

Our research addresses questions such as:

  • How can developing economies effectively engage in international integration to stimulate growth?
  • How does globalisation affect services trade and what are the complementarities between goods and services trade?
  • How do electoral systems and the efforts of lobbies shape trade protection?
  • In the wake of the international trade collapse, what factors drive trade volatility and vulnerability of international trade?

The group maintains external links with the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), the World Bank and the LSE's Centre for Economic Performance (CEP). It also maintains strong internal ties with IDS and the Centre for the Analysis of Regional Integration at Sussex (CARIS), which conducts research in all areas related to regional integration. Research in the Department has heavily influenced trade policy debates, for example, with regards to the EU’s scheme of trade preferences for developing countries and the role of the EU in value chains with China. It has also led to the development of the TradeSift software, which facilitates assessment of welfare changes associated with regional integration, and has been used to train more than 400 policy-makers world-wide.

Collaborative work with the World Bank has contributed to the construction of the Services Policy Restrictions Database, which describes global patterns of barriers to services trade. Current research in the Department studies trade policy as a determinant of mergers and acquisitions in services, and examines how policies governing the liner shipping sector affects maritime transport costs and seaborne trade flows. Our ongoing research also studies aspects of trade, migration and poverty reduction, with the Migrating out of Poverty Research Programme Consortium based in Sussex (funded by DFID from 2010 to September 2019). 

Snapshot of recent research findings

Services trade and Brexit

Services trade and Brexit from University of Sussex on Vimeo.

Brexit: Economic Sovereignty? Who makes the rules?

Economic Sovereignty? Who makes the rules? from University of Sussex on Vimeo.

Research projects

Our research projects, with a variety of collaborators, include:

  • interconnections between trade in goods and trade in services
  • trade and investment in services sectors
  • preferences, regional integration and WTO
  • vertical specialisation and effects of competition from emerging markets
  • trade and firm level productivity, and engagement in value chains
  • trade and industrial organisation
  • the political economy of protection
  • trade and migration e.g. modelling multiple-migrant households, long-term consequences of internal migration in Indonesia in response the Asian crisis
  • the effects of privatisation on productivity growth
  • trade liberalisation, development and poverty-alleviation
  • trade liberalisation and vulnerability
  • trade and natural resources (energy, water) 

The group also supervises a number of PhD students whose research includes employment effects of trade liberalisation in India, firm-level engagement in exporting and innovation in the face of crisis, the effects of trade liberalisation in Peru, trade and inequality, and the political economy of protection in India.

Find out more about our current research

Policy Barriers to International Trade in Services: Evidence from a New Database

A Swing-State Theory of Trade Protection in the Electoral College

Trade as an engine of creative destruction: Mexican experience with Chinese competition

Contact us

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They are joined by trade economists Spencer Henson and Dirk Willenbockel at IDS and affiliates Alasdair Smith and Jim Rollo. Moreover, we have a number of PhD students working on various topics related to international trade and trade policy.