international trade

New £12m research centre for inclusive trade policy

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

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.

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 Nottingham, the Centre brings together researchers from all four UK nations – including from the University of Sussex, the University of Strathclyde, Queen’s University Belfast, Cardiff University and the University of Cambridge - 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.

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

The team based at the University of Nottingham, led by Professor Giovanni Facchini, includes Professor Facundo Albornoz, Dr Alejandro Graziano, Professor Giammario Impullitti, Professor Richard Kneller, Professor Andres Rodriguez Clare, Professor Cecilia Testa, Dr Yuan Tian and Dr Zhihong Yu. Researchers will work on a range of questions, such as: the long-term, general equilibrium effects of trade on the UK economy, the impact of multinational production on climate change, and the effectiveness of trade adjustment assistance programs on public support for trade liberalisation.

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.”

Giovanni Facchini
This new Centre will also undertake an inclusive range of activities – from ground-breaking research to novel data collection, high-level training and deep engagement with policy actors.
Professor Giovanni Facchini, Professor of Economics at the University of Nottingham

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.”

“The new Centre fits perfectly into our strategic plans, exemplifying research with impact in making research accessible in order to solve the grand issues of our time, and building on strengths in enhancing and building upon Sussex’s long-held reputation for specialism and expertise in international trade.”

The centre includes researchers from:
University of Sussex
University of Nottingham
University of Strathclyde
Queen’s University Belfast
Cardiff University
University of Cambridge
European University Institute
Georgetown University
Tel Aviv University
University of California, Berkeley

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More information is available from Professor Giovanni Facchini in the Faculty of Social Sciences at

Katie Andrews - Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Social Sciences
Phone: 0115 951 5751

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About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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