People, Firms and Places

International trade affects prices, wages and employment opportunities. We unpack how trade integration, trade disintegration and trade policy affect individuals, businesses and the nations and regions of the UK in a differentiated manner.

Focussing on people, we will compare aggregate effects of, say, signing a free trade agreement with individual outcomes for certain groups of workers or consumers and in specific regions. A new ‘Jobs in Trade Dataset’ will provide detailed information about some 6.5 million UK jobs that are directly or indirectly linked to exporting activity. As changes in wages and employment may also affect public views on trade openness, we will study how these impacts shape voting behaviour and radical sentiments.

Focussing on firms, international trade is increasingly part of the production process, and therefore major shocks such as Covid-19 and the rise of China profoundly affect UK businesses. Our research will look at the responses of businesses to these trends in terms of productivity, the use of international supply chains and investment decisions. Some projects will focus specifically on services trade, which comprises 50% of UK exports.

Focussing on places, regional policymaking in the devolved administrations creates challenges for a unified UK Internal Market. For instance, in some sectors, different rules could apply in each UK nation and yet we need to reconcile this with having a single UK market. We will focus on the regulatory and political fragmentation in the UK Internal Market and its implications for intra-UK trade, e.g. in agri-food products, and for the regional competition for foreign investment.