Economics of Prosperity

The Legatum Institute Special Trade Commission (STC) was created in the wake of the British vote to leave the European Union. At this critical historical juncture, the STC aims to present a roadmap for the many trade negotiations which the UK will need to undertake now. It seeks to re-focus the public discussion on Brexit to a positive conversation on opportunities, rather than challenges, while presenting empirical evidence of the dangers of not following an expansive trade negotiating path.

The STC will draw upon the talent of experienced former trade negotiators from the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore, among other nations.

In 2017, the STC will host a number of public briefings that offer advice to key stakeholders on EU negotiations. 

For enquiries or suggestions, please email us.


UK Trade Policy

The UK’s trade policy should consist of four fundamental pillars. These pillars include:

  • What we can do unilaterally to create a more pro-competitive environment at home and a reduction of tariffs
  • What we can do bilaterally to sign agreements with other countries
  • What we can do plurilaterally to gather a group of like-minded countries into a broader Prosperity Zone
  • What we can do multilaterally including our WTO rectification process, and our liberalising agenda going forwards

Relevant paper:


The European Union is our most important trading partner, and there are many other countries interested in trade deals with the UK. This pillar also represents our opportunities to work more constructively with developing and emerging economies.

  • EU
  • US
  • Switzerland, and EFTA countries
  • Big Emerging Markets, e.g. Brazil, India, China
  • Developing countries through EPAs and selective DFID support

Relevant papers:


Agreements with groups of like-minded countries who favour open trade and competitive markets can propel growth, both in those countries and more widely.

  • Prosperity Zone – a new high standard agreement
  • Existing regional deals that have open access: P4, TPP, NAFTA accession
  • Full participation in TiSA 

Relevant papers:


The multilateral pillar relates to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and acting together with all of its members.

  • WTO Rectification (CET, Services, import quotas, aggregate measure of support (AMS), share of EU quotas
  • Signal future liberalisation
  • Active engagement in TiSA and other WTO initiatives

Relevant papers:

Foundations of Brexit

To successfully achieve the four-pillared trade strategy, the UK will need to take three fundamental actions:

  1. Exit the Customs Union to be able to negotiate free trade deals with other countries
  2. Leave the European Single Market to gain the freedom to negotiate services trade deals with other countries and be flexible on mutual recognition of regulations
  3. Maintain open and pro-competitive domestic settings
Customs Union
Customs Union

To be free to negotiate free trade deals with other countries, the UK will need to leave the Customs Union. In doing so, the UK should seek the following from the EU in the interim and in its end state free trade agreements:

  • Zero for zero tariff deal
  • Customs clearance and facilitation arrangements
  • Mutual recognition agreements for regulations and conformity assessment
  • Liberal rules of origin

Relevant paper:

Single Market
Leaving the Single Market

With services being the UK’s key export, the UK will need to leave the Single Market to secure flexibility to put its domestic regulation on the table in services trade deal negotiations. Leaving the Single Market may present problems for the services trade that has relied on a single regulatory system, which must be dealt with by interim measures and ultimately in free trade agreements. Such affected sectors will include:

  • Financial services
  • Aviation
  • Life Sciences
  • Technology and media

Relevant papers:

Domestic Settings

Domestic Settings

To be both an attractive trading partner and for a thriving domestic economy, the UK needs to get these policies right in the domestic arena:

  • Agriculture
  • Fisheries
  • Industrial Strategy

Relevant papers:

The Commissioners

  • Shanker Singham
  • Chairman of the Legatum Institute Special Trade Commission; Director of Economic Policy and Prosperity Studies, Legatum Institute; CEO of Competere; former Managing Director, Competitiveness and Enterprise Cities project, Babson Global [More]
Alan Oxley
  • Alan Oxley
  • Managing Director, ITS Global, Consultants on Global Issues, Australia; former diplomat [More]
  • Alden Abbott
  • Deputy Director, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and John, Barbara, and Victoria Rumpel Senior Legal Fellow, Heritage Foundation, USA; former Director of Antitrust Policy, Federal Trade Commission; Legatum Fellow [More]
  • Francisco Sanchez
  • Chairman, CNS Global Advisors; former Under Secretary for International Trade (Obama administration) [More]
  • Grant Aldonas
  • Senior Advisor, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS); former Under Secretary for International Trade (Bush administration) [More]
John Weeks
  •  John Weekes
  • Senior Business Adviser at the Canadian law firm Bennett Jones; former Canadian Chief Negotiator for NAFTA, Ambassador to the WTO and Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade [More]

  • Luis de la Calle
  • Founding Partner and Managing Director, De la Calle, Madrazo, & Mancera, Mexico; former Undersecretary of International Business Negotiations, Ministry of Economy in Mexico; former Minister of Trade Issues, Mexican Embassy, Washington, DC [More]

  • Sir Lockwood Smith
  • Former New Zealand High Commissioner to the UK
  • Former Speaker of New Zealand's Parliament
  • Former New Zealand Trade Minister
  •  Razeen Sally
  • Associate Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore; Chairman, Institute of Policy Studies, Sri Lanka; former Chair, World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Competitiveness [More]

All commissioners will serve the Commission in an individual capacity

Mission Statement

The purpose of the Legatum Institute Special Trade Commission (STC) is to understand and guide the process that the UK and other governments are engaged in as a result of the Brexit referendum.

The Commission will provide the academic firepower to enable a successful process that includes

  1. The UK’s relationship with Europe;
  2. The relationship with the countries that more holistically embrace open trade, competition on the merits as an organising economic principle, and property rights protection;
  3. The bilaterals with other key trading partners;
  4. The relationship with the Commonwealth and developing countries; and
  5. The underpinning WTO relationship.

The STC’s combined expertise and experience, spread over two hundred years and hundreds of trade agreements puts it in a unique position to be a trusted and independent advisor to the series of post-Brexit processes that could and should lead to the creation of a global economic engine.

This realises the Legatum Institute’s theory of change which is ultimately driven by the need to lift the global poor out of poverty and to create jobs, hope and opportunity for the world’s people through the application of property rights protection and open trade systems that are characterised by competition on the merits as the organising economic principle.

The role of the STC is to assist governments, stakeholders and others towards increased global prosperity which is available if the inflection point in history that the Brexit vote represents is capitalised on.

The Legatum Institute is an international think tank and educational charity focused on promoting prosperity.

Latest Op-Eds, Commentary & Media Coverage

  •  Sir Lockwood Smith's speech to the Prosperity UK Conference on the global trade opportunities for the UK [Read]
  • Our Commissioner, Luis De La Calle writes for Americas Quarterly on the relevance of NAFTA [View
  • Shanker Singham was interviewed by The Sunday Times on the process for negotiating trade deals [£ View
  • Brexit creates EU-Britain nightmare for the Caribbean, OECS Business Focus [View
  • British economist says go to London now, The Daily Observer [View
  • O'Marde: Brexit talks should include reparations, The Daily Observer [View
  • Antigua and Barbuda hosts Brexit roundtable, Caribbean Times [View
  • Ambassador makes case for post-Brexit assistance, The Daily Observer [View]
  • Business community engage in discussions on Brexit implications for the Caribbean, Caribbean Times [View
  • A case for post-Brexit assistance, Caribbean Times [View]
  • Shanker Singham responds to President Trump's cancellation of TPP [View]
  • Free trade is key to the UK’s prosperity after Brexit, Steve Baker, FT [£ View]
  • The pay-as-you-go Brexit, Tim Shipman & James Lyons, The Times [£ View]
  • Shanker Singham gives an update on Brexit, TPP and more, Sky News [Watch]
  • Keep calm and carry on trading: Donald Trump TPP tantrum will not hurt UK, City A.M. [View]
  • The cost of EEA membership is not worth it for the UK, Reaction [View
  • Just as MPs can’t negotiate Britain’s Brexit, so they can’t negotiate its future trade deals, ConservativeHome [View]
  • Investment is the new front line in the global war on trade, Australian Financial Review [View]
  • Steve Baker, MP: We need a pragmatic approach to leaving the European Union, City A.M. [View]
  • Hard Brexit could help secure trade deals worth double EU agreements, say Eurosceptics, Sunday Telegraph [View]

See the full list of media coverage here.​

Papers and Briefings

Related Materials & Impact

  • The Future of British Trade—Shanker Singham and Elizabeth Linder in conversation at the Asia-Scotland Institute [Watch
  • Exiting the European Union Committee: The UK’s negotiating objectives for its withdrawal from the EU, November 2016; Shanker Singham testifies [Watch]
  • Arizona State Senate Joint Ad-Hoc Committee on Prosperity Districts, October 2016; Shanker Singham testifies [Watch]
  • Treasury Committee hearing on the future of the UK's economic relationship with the EU, July 2016; Shanker testifies [Watch]
  • Shanker Singham launches the Legatum Institute Special Trade Commission, July 2016 [Podcast]
  • A General Theory of Trade and Competition: Trade Liberalisation and Competitive Markets, by Shanker Singham, Cameron May Publishing 2007 [More]