• The International Trade Committee has published five Areas of Research Interest (ARIs) for 2021 to help support the Committee’s scrutiny of UK trade policy.
  • Academics at all career stages, research institutions, and experts are encouraged to register their interest in the ARIs, add their existing research in the topic areas to the ARIs repository, provide their insights, and suggest questions that the Committee could be asking to the Government.
  • Those who respond to the survey will be entered onto a database of experts who may be contacted by parliamentary staff in order to help them scrutinise government in these areas of interest. There is no need to contact committee staff directly, as they have access to all information you enter on the database.

Register your interest and expertise in UK Trade Policy

International Trade Committee Areas of Research Interest 2021

1. UK trade negotiations

Research questions in this area include:

1.1 What principles should underlie the UK’s approach in trade negotiations to:

    • Agri-food products (including production standards and market access)?
    • Trade in services (including market access, recognition of professional qualifications / licensing)?
    • Business mobility?
    • Intellectual property (including copyright, patents and protected Geographical Indications)?
    • Public services and the “right to regulate”?
    • Consumer protection?

1.2 How adequate is the Government’s existing approach to impact assessments for its Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)?

1.3 How could the Government’s existing approach to impact assessments for FTAs be improved?

1.4 Which key trade policy issues are likely to arise in negotiations with the below (or other countries) with whom the UK may seek an FTA?

  • Canada
  • India
  • Israel
  • Mexico
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • The United States of America

In particular, but not exclusively, what are:

  • the UK’s key offensive and defensive interests;
  • potential impacts of an FTA on stakeholders (e.g. consumers, specific sectors of the economy, particular countries or regions of the UK);
  • possible consequences for trade with other countries or blocs (e.g. in relation to setting precedents for future agreements, or triggering MFN clauses in existing FTAs)?

1.5 How have other countries attempted to measure the potential gains and actual benefits from FTAs? How successful or reliable has this been, and to what extent could any of these approaches by applied to UK FTAs?

2. Gender and trade

Research questions in this area include:

2.1 What effects can trade policy have on people of different gender identities in terms of economic and social equality and empowerment?

2.2 What examples are there of trade policies in other countries that have been developed to help share the benefits of trade more equally across society, or as a tool to encourage empowerment among under-represented groups?

  • What are the outcomes of these policies (positive and negative)?
  • What lessons can the UK take from these, to inform its approach?

2.3 How have different countries used FTAs to further gender equality? What works and what doesn’t?

2.4 To what extent do international approaches, such as the Joint Declaration signed in 2017, address the gender inequality impacts of trade?

3. Upholding UK food standards

Research questions in this area include:

3.1 What are the different regulatory approaches to managing food standards through trade agreements, covering animal and plant health/welfare, consumer rights, use of antimicrobials and other agro-technologies (e.g. growth hormones, GM)?

  • Which of these approaches have proved most effective, and what lessons can be learnt from this?

3.2 To what extent could the UK’s existing or emerging approaches to food standards areas impact on its ability to trade, or establish FTAs, with some countries?

  • How would deviating from EU standards affect UK-EU, and GB-NI, trade?

3.3 What is the impact of UK food standards on market access for producers from low-income countries?

 4. Developing countries

Research questions in this area include:

4.1 What are the current trade barriers faced by developing countries? How and by what means can UK trade policy lessen these?

4.2 How can the UK improve on the EU’s GSP and GSP+ schemes?

4.3 What options does the UK have for improving on the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries which it has rolled over?

4.4 How can the UK contribute to the relaunching of the Doha Development Agenda, or an alternative multilateral package for developing countries?

4.5 How can the UK realise the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through its trade policy?

5. Foreign Policy and Trade

Research questions in this area include:

5.1 What is the relationship between trade and foreign policy in the UK? How do other countries balance this relationship?

5.2 Are there areas where the UK’s trade policy is currently at odds with its foreign policy?

5.3 How far does the Government have a joined-up approach to trade and foreign policy?

5.4 How well do the Department for International Trade and FCDO work together, and where could they do so better, e.g. around areas of strength and weaknesses, or differing priorities?

5.5 What options does the UK have for bringing its trade and foreign policies closer together, especially through but not limited to its aid policy? What are the advantages and disadvantages of these options?

5.6 What options does the UK have for using trade policy mechanisms, e.g. trade remedies or sanctions, for foreign policy ends? How far would these be compatible with its WTO and FTA obligations?

Register your interest and expertise in UK Trade Policy

International Trade Committee

Commons Select Committee

Established in 2016, the International Trade Select Committee scrutinises the spending, administration and policy of the Department for International Trade, and other associated public bodies. It is appointed by the House of Commons, and currently chaired by Angus Brendan MacNeil MP (Scottish National Party).

Find out more about this committee.

What are Areas of Research Interest?

Areas of Research Interest (ARIs) are lists of policy issues or questions. They are a way for an organisation to express interest in seeing more research evidence in certain topics.

How can researchers share their insights on the ARIs?

If you have evidence or insights on the ARIs (including evidence reviews): you can add information about the research and your contact details to the repository of research relevant to the ARIs. If this area becomes a topic of scrutiny within Parliament, parliamentary staff may search the repository for relevant research and contacts.

How does Parliament use ARIs?

An inquiry into the effectiveness and influence of the Select Committee system by the 2017–19 House of Commons Liaison Committee made several recommendations on how to improve the use of research evidence in select committees. One recommendation was for committees to develop and publish areas of research interest (ARIs). The House of Commons Scrutiny Unit, with the support of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), is trialling select committee ARIs as a pilot exercise to better understand and assess how they can support parliamentary scrutiny.

ARIs are not an exhaustive list of all areas in which Parliament may be interested in research evidence in the future. Parliamentary priorities are driven by elected representatives responding to current affairs. In particular, select committees issue calls for evidence based on their current priorities; ARIs do not replace these calls for evidence. However, ARIs may be used by parliamentarians and by parliamentary staff in POST, the Libraries and select committee teams to scope and/or inform future work.

House of Commons Scrutiny Unit

The Scrutiny Unit forms part of the Committee Office in the House of Commons and exists to strengthen the scrutiny function of the House.


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