Global Trade Policy: Challenges and Opportunities

Research and convening to address the most pressing trade issues with the aim to build a more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient global trade system.

The international trade environment has changed drastically in recent years. Traditional trade links are fraying in light of the strategic competition between the US and China, the UK’s departure from the EU and ongoing supply chain disruptions.

At the same time, new regional and sectoral trade agreements create opportunities to harness the twin transitions to green and digital economies. In a contested world, trade policy can play an important role for international cooperation and supporting domestic policies around equity and inclusion.

Chatham House – in partnership with other leading organisations – offers expert analysis to help navigate this complex trade landscape. We seek to develop policy recommendations for the future direction of global trade in a context of changing geopolitical dynamics and rapid technological transformations.

Our work on global trade comprises the following main activities:

Chatham House Global Trade Policy Forum

Chatham House launched the Global Trade Policy Forum in 2020 to serve as the focal point for the institute’s research and events concerning global trade. At the core of this multi-year initiative are a high-level speaker series, expert roundtable discussions and written outputs which address the range of regional and systemic trade matters.

The research activities of the Chatham House Global Trade Policy Forum are focused on three pillars:

1. Trade fragmentation: Myths and realities

  • Trade and investment ties with China in an era of strategic competition;
  • Supply chain resilience post-COVID-19 and improved preparedness for future shocks;
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and implications for the future of globalisation.

2. Trade and the twin transitions to green and digital economies

  • Alignment between trade policy and tackling climate change including border carbon adjustment mechanisms;
  • Trade policy amidst the shift towards digital, service-led economies and divergent approaches to data governance and key emerging technologies.

3. The future of global trade governance

  • Prospects for reforming the World Trade Organization (WTO) and priorities for the multilateral trading system;
  • Changing landscape of bilateral and regional and sectoral trade arrangements and forums of cooperation.

The Global Trade Policy Forum is supported by AIG (founding partner), Boston Consulting Group (associate partner), Diageo plc (supporting partner).

The UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO)

Created in June 2016, the UKTPO is a partnership between Chatham House and the University of Sussex.

Following the departure from the EU, the UK is reconfiguring its trade policy and is navigating a new international trade landscape as an independent player.

The UK Trade Policy Observatory offers a wide range of expertise to help support government departments, national and international organisations and other stakeholders in developing trade policies.

It provides insights through briefing papers, videos, podcasts and events on many aspects of the UK’s emerging trade policy and the global context.

For the most recent content visit the University of Sussex UKTPO website.