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Designing a new UK preferences regime post-Brexit: how Africa can benefit

Working paper

Written by Maximiliano Mendez-Parra

Working paper

The UK’s departure from the EU (‘Brexit’) will trigger a series of critical policy decisions. Uppermost among these is the decision on how to define UK trade policy. Assuming the UK will leave the EU Customs Union, the country will need to modify its tariff policy as well as to design its own preferential scheme, the main objective of which must be to avoid damaging beneficiary countries that have to date relied on this enhanced market access to trade.


This paper aims to facilitate discussions on the design of a new UK Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) regime that works for Africa, by exploring the importance of the existing preferential regime and the potential impact of its discontinuation on developing countries on the continent, and reviewing the GSP regimes of countries other than the UK. It concludes by presenting a new GSP regime the UK could adopt post-Brexit, to not only ensure that no African country is worse-off as a result, but in many cases to extend market access and improve the benefits for some of the world's poorest economies.

Maximiliano Mendez-Parra

This working paper was amended on 28 September 2017 to:

  • acknowledge the UK Government's intention to extend preferences to LDCs and work with other developing countries;
  • correct an error (p. 16) that implied the EU's GSP+ was designed to benefit LDCs only, when in fact it is meant to benefit small and medium-sized non-LDCs.