Making Trade Work for Development

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Brexit will have significant implications for the UK’s trade with developing countries. Addressing the potential opportunities and obstacles is of fundamental importance in order to create a trade regime that works for both the UK and its trade partners in the developing world. 

On 5 May 2017, Dr Emily Jones started this process by hosting an expert workshop to explore the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on trade with developing countries and to identify specific policy options the UK government can consider in delivering on its commitment. 

Co-convened by the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxfam GB, Traidcraft, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the Overseas Development Institute, this workshop brought together experienced researchers, development practitioners, and trade lawyers, along with representatives from developing country governments, international organisations, development NGOs, and the private sector. The discussion at the workshop tackled major issues of trade and development and reached three important conclusions about the impact of Brexit:

  1. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU is likely to substantially increase the costs for developing countries of accessing the UK market, and the UK government should act now to minimise these costs. 
  2. The UK is a significant trading partner for many developing countries and while UK trade policy is no ‘magic bullet’ for development, there are a series of options that the UK government can consider to ensure that UK trade policy post-Brexit supports sustainable development. 
  3. In order to properly evaluate these options, more information and analysis are needed in very specific areas.

The workshop produced a report which summarises the principal conclusions, presents the research agendas, and includes submissions from all the participants on various issues relating to Brexit and trade with developing countries. The success of this working group and the conclusions reached by it form a strong foundation for moving forward to make UK trade work for development.