Last reviewed 11 November 2021

The UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO), a partnership between Chatham House and the University of Sussex, works to support the development of new trade policies in the post-Brexit era.

Its Founding Director Professor Alan Winters has recently highlighted that the UK has signed no new trade agreements relative to what it would have had as a continuing member of the EU.

Furthermore, the two agreements in principle announced this year (Australia and New Zealand) will, on the Government’s own figures, increase UK Gross Domestic Product by only between £200 and £500 million annually — that is, 0.01% to 0.02%.

This equates to between £3 and £7 per head of population, the professor points out, and that is only after they have bedded down over a period of about 15 years.

Government analysis also treats the agreement with Japan (the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement — CEPA) as new because the EU’s agreement was not fully operational when it was undertaken.

UKTPO argues, however, that CEPA is modelled extremely closely on the EU-Japan agreement, with a few small differences.

These include extensions on, for example, digital trade, and one major loss — the inability of UK exporters to the EU to be able to count Japanese parts towards meeting the EU’s requirements for getting zero-tariff entry to the EU.

“We were asked to sum up the economic benefits of the UK’s new post-Brexit trade agreements”, Professor Winters said. “Our first observation is that, if we take as a starting point the trade agreements that the UK would have been party to as a member of the EU, the Government has, to date, signed no new trade agreements.”