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Faculty of Economics

A major new research centre on inclusive trade policy is to launch in early 2022. The Centre for Inclusive Trade Policy aims to be a centre of excellence for innovative trade policy research. It will include Co-Investigator Professor Meredith Crowley from the University of Cambridge Faculty of Economics.


Professor Meredith Crowley

The UK has experienced a huge change in trade policy. Having left the EU, it is in the process of devising its own trade policy, one that will shape economic and welfare outcomes in all corners of the United Kingdom for generations.

At the same time, international trade is changing rapidly and becoming more complex with the world trading system facing major challenges such as COVID-19, trade wars, disruptive digital technology and climate change. Formulating an effective trade policy that delivers something for all parts of society in such circumstances requires an evidence-based interdisciplinary approach, which the Centre aims to provide.

The Centre for Inclusive Trade Policy, the first centre dedicated to trade policy to be funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), is built on the precept that trade policy should be inclusive in both policy formulation and outcome and focuses on four dimensions of inclusiveness: geography, political domains, society and generations. In addition, the Centre itself is inclusive with researchers in all four UK nations, in five disciplines and at all stages of their careers, and with a commitment to hear the voices of all parts of UK society.

In addition to the University of Cambridge, the Centre brings together researchers from all four UK nations – including from the University of Sussex, University of Nottingham, the University of Strathclyde, Queen’s University Belfast, Cardiff University and the - and several overseas universities to create the UK’s first interdisciplinary research centre in international trade. The team comprises scholars from economics, law, business management, politics and international relations.


International Trade Handshake


Led by Professors L. Alan Winters and Michael Gasiorek at the University of Sussex Business School with Giovanni Facchini of the University of Nottingham as deputy director, the Centre is supported by a £8 million grant from the ESRC and by funding from its contributing universities. It is one of six new national centres funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) designed to tackle urgent social and economic issues and provide robust research evidence to support government decision making.

Professor Meredith Crowley from Cambridges’ Faculty of Economics will conduct research on free trade agreements and exporter behaviour with support from a Centre-funded post-doc student. “This new Centre will serve as a platform to facilitate inter-disciplinary research on the creation and conduct of trade policy. Projects will place a strong emphasis on understanding why the benefits of trade are not evenly distributed across different groups in society.”

Professor Winters, Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex Business School, said: “International trade accounts for nearly a third of UK output and a third of what it consumes. Our research suggests that perhaps 6.5 million jobs are linked directly or indirectly to exporting. The country needs a ‘go-to’ location, both intellectually and for policy formulation. By bringing a diverse group of excellent researchers together, the Centre for Inclusive Trade Policy aims to equip the UK with the capability to formulate and implement a trade policy tailored to the needs of the whole of the UK.”


Trade Port at Sunset


In addition to the universities, the Centre will work with nine partners including Ernst & Young LLP (EY), Fieldfisher LLP, the International Trade Group of the Professional and Business Services Council, the British Chambers of Commerce, the Trade Justice Movement and trade officials in all four UK administrations. It will undertake consultation and societal deliberation via citizen’s juries, to ensure that its programme is relevant to the needs of UK business, society and policymakers.

In particular, the Centre’s objectives include:


  • Conduct frontier disciplinary and interdisciplinary research into international trade and policy

  • Create a critical mass of expertise by integrating excellent scholars from several disciplines and all parts of the UK

  • Create a body of data and innovative methods

  • Apply research skills to pressing practical trade problems, including some identified by a broad societal consultation (citizens’ juries) among stakeholders and the public.

  • Work extensively to inform public debate, so that the relevance of trade to economic management is clear and the trade-offs that it inevitably entails are more widely appreciated.

  • Engage with a wide range of policymakers and stakeholders.

  • Create a legacy in terms of a permanent wide-spread capacity to conduct first-rate research, analysis and policy-making practices in international trade in UK academia, officialdom and business.


The Centre will also run a competition for funds for early and mid-career researchers who are not part of the Centre team but who offer innovative proposals within international trade policy. This is a key part of the Centre’s plan to build long-term capacity for trade policy development and analysis.

Professor Gasiorek, Centre co-director and Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex, said: “Our aim is to help to equip the UK with an effective and equitable trade policy. The Centre will build permanent capacity by developing a community of scholars and practitioners with the knowledge, skills and mutual understanding to develop robust trade policy in a changing world. Its work will benefit the whole of UK society, enhancing environmental sustainability and social equity.”




Trade Policy


Trade Wars

Climate Change

International Trade

Disruptive Digital Technology