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Professor Christopher Dent

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Edge Hill political economist advises MPs on post-Brexit trade agreements

Publish date: September 8, 2022

A political economist from Edge Hill University’s Business School gave expert advice to MPs on potential trade agreements the UK could sign up to in the wake of Brexit.

Professor Christopher Dent gave evidence and was asked questions relating to his expertise on the Asia-Pacific region and the UK’s strategy of signing free trade agreements with countries from this region, particularly the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

He told the committee: “The key question for me is who sets the regulatory practices of the CPTPP trade agreement?”

The appearance was Professor Dent’s latest as part of his role as a Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons International Trade Committee.

He explained: “The EU wasn’t just a free trade agreement and customs union; we were very integrated into the single European market.

“The way we typically calibrate the levels of regional integration is by starting with a free trade area where you remove conventional trade barriers between the signatory parties.

“With a customs union you adopt a common trade policy and with a single market you develop the integration to a whole new level.

“The CPTPP is largely a free trade area. While it is not as sophisticated and integrated as the European Union, it does cover a wide range of trade regulatory areas.

“Essentially by leaving the EU and its trade regulatory norms, we are aligning ourselves to a large regional arrangement where the US has had significant regulatory impact.

“After the US pulled out of the CPTPP, my understanding and observation is that Japan has been left as the de facto leader and it tried to resuscitate the TPP to become the CPTPP because it had invested a lot of economic work and reforms.

“There are other powers like Canada, Australia, and Mexico. If the UK joins, it could end up being like the Franco-German alliance which drove EU integration over time, but I don’t think it will be as well-defined or developed as that alliance because culturally speaking, the UK is not Asian and is not in the Asia Pacific geographically.

“In terms of culture and values, our way of doing things is very different.”

Professor Dent, a Professor in Economics and International Business, provides expert advice to the Committee, which comprises a cross-party selection of Members of Parliament who scrutinise the government’s trade policy and negotiations on new trade agreements. 

His appointment was confirmed last year as Britain began to formulate its own independent trade policy following the country’s departure from the EU.

As well as teaching at Edge Hill’s Business School, Professor Dent is also the leader of SustainNET, a network group of sustainability-passionate staff and students at Edge Hill under the Institute for Social Responsibility (ISR)

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