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UKTPO expertise on Brexit and international trade praised by senior MPs at parliamentary select committee hearing

Experts from the UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex gave evidence to the International Trade Select Committee in the House of Commons on Wednesday 12 September, winning praise from committee chair Angus MacNeil for their work on Brexit and UK trade policy.

As part of its inquiry investigating the impact that future arrangements between the UK and European Union could have on wider UK trade policy, the International Trade Committee took evidence from UKTPO economists Dr Michael Gasiorek and Dr Peter Holmes, and UKTPO trade law specialist Dr Emily Lydgate at a hearing on 12 September.

Committee chair Angus MacNeil MP opened the session by warmly praising the experts’ work and contribution to the ongoing national debate about the implications of Brexit on UK trade: “It strikes me that, pre-Brexit, the only institution that’s paid any attention to all this was Sussex – and now, post-Brexit, Sussex is very much involved with it.”

Watch our UKTPO experts give evidence to the select committee

The committee explored a number of topics during the session, including the extent of the government’s proposed common rulebook on goods, how the proposed facilitated customs arrangement (FCA) deals with rules of origin, and to what extent the so-called Chequers proposals would impact the government’s ability to strike new trade deals after Brexit.

Addressing these issues, Dr Gasiorek told the committee: “On regulatory matters, it severely constrains the UK because it can’t choose different forms of standards with, for example, the US, so it constrains the non-tariff regulatory side that it could sign with third countries considerably.”

Dr Gasiorek continued: “On tariffs, it also makes it much more difficult to sign agreements with third countries because…preferential tariffs [would] only be applicable to those goods which our firms can demonstrate are only being sold in the UK…. So it makes the whole process of negotiation and what the UK can offer potentially much less attractive.”

Read the UKTPO blog article ‘Decoding the Facilitated Customs Arrangement’

On the common rulebook, Dr Lydgate pointed out: “Complying with EU regulations is necessary for any country wanting to trade with the EU – having a frictionless border would require much more than that… Deviation from the common rulebook between the UK and the EU post-Brexit will be unlikely and extremely difficult – and deviation would reinstate the need for border checks on regulatory grounds.”

Read Emily Lydgate’s analysis of the proposed common rulebook

The International Trade Committee session on 12 September is one of a number of occasions in which UKTPO expertise has been called upon by parliament following the UK’s historic referendum vote to leave the EU. In all, UKTPO fellows have given evidence to more than 15 parliamentary inquiries on Brexit-related issues, and UKTPO research and expertise have been cited in several of the committee reports that followed.

Two UKTPO fellows have also acted as special advisors to the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee – Prof Erika Szyszczak to the inquiry on Brexit: Competition and State Aid, and Dr Ingo Borchert as advisor to the inquiry into the implications of Brexit for future trade between the EU and the UK in services.

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Posted on behalf of: Daniel Vince-Archer, University of Sussex Business School
Last updated: Friday, 14 September 2018

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