International Trade

Changing the terms of trade

Freeing trade in goods and services has been a potent force for economic growth and development. But trade has changed. Nations specialise in tasks as much as products, as businesses integrate into global value chains. The rules and institutions governing trade are also facing their biggest challenges since the second world war.

Staying open for trade

Global trade and technological change have made economies more interconnected. Policy needs are more complex, as are negotiations on trade rules.

The key questions are no longer conventional border measures such as tariffs, but “behind-the-border” measures such as regulation, state aid, and intellectual property.

We advise on:

  • Policy reform
  • Policy modelling
  • Trade litigation and negotiations
  • Trade promotion and diplomacy
  • Trade negotiation strategies

Our advice is supported by our expertise in infrastructure reform, technology and innovation, competition policy, public policy and regulation.

Find out more: Policy, Competition, Regulation

Trade policy modelling

Trade policy looms large in the news. The UK’s impending departure from the EU means that it will need to devise its own trade policy for the first time in recent memory. The EU itself has much unfinished business on trade, both internally and with the rest of the world.

Designing trade policy is complex, spanning tariffs to beef, to regulating financial services, to state aid. If done correctly, policy reforms can benefit the reforming country and its trade partners.

Our strengths are based not only on our advisory capabilities, but also on our experience of implementing reforms.

Our experience includes:

  • Impact analysis, both economy-wide and for particular sectors or stakeholders
  • Evaluating public policy and regulatory impacts of policy reforms
Trade Policy Reform

Evaluating the impact of trade reforms and negotiations usually requires quantitative modelling. We use econometric approaches, supplemented as needed by macro-economic modelling frameworks. But we don’t just rely on the numbers – we’re careful to describe the underlying narrative and policy implications.

Our experience includes modelling:

  • the impacts of free trade agreements on trade and growth
  • the impacts of policy or regulatory changes on the whole economy and individual sectors
  • the social and economic impacts of specific activities and industries
Trade litigation and negotiation

Trade litigation spans issues including trade remedies, such as anti-dumping action, and disputes before international tribunals. And trade negotiations take place at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.

In trade litigation, our work focuses on providing:

  • specific quantitative answers, for example working out the margin of dumping
  • economic analysis of the key questions in dispute, such as whether competitive interactions within an industry have been correctly described). 

Our experience around trade negotiations includes:

  • Evaluating the payoffs from alternative negotiating positions
  • Understanding the sector and policy impacts of negotiations
  • Drafting schedules of liberalisation commitments
Trade promotion and diplomacy

Trade negotiations are not the only way through which government diplomacy can enhance a country’s export capacity. Governments can also increase opportunities for businesses overseas through supporting interventions such as providing market intelligence, fostering networking opportunities and arranging exhibitions and fairs.

Though these activities have a long history, in more recent times there has been a greater interest in identifying how these activities can deliver better value for money.

Our experience includes:

  • Using quantitative tools to identify the economic returns from specific types of export-support activity
  • Conducting studies to demonstrate the economic value generated by trade diplomacy
  • Programme reviews of trade promotion on a country-specific or cross-country basis