Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Research Papers in Economics,
Stockholm University, Department of Economics

No 2017:7: Brexit - balancing trade and mobility?

Rikard Forslid () and Sten Nyberg ()
Additional contact information
Rikard Forslid: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University, Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Sten Nyberg: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University, Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Control over borders and access to the common market are key issues in the Brexit negotiations. We explore a sequential model, where the UK can commit to mobility, and the EU may constrain trade to dissuade future secession, or to punish the UK. The model highlights the importance of whether the EU views trade and labor mobility as substitutes, in line with standard trade theory, or as complements, as suggested by EU statements about inseparable freedoms. In the former case, the UK can attain its preferred mobility with impunity. Mobility and trade restrictions are higher in the latter case. While the EU's bargaining position hinges on a willingness to constrain trade, the EU does not benefit from strengthen this, say by fueling resentment about Brexit. The sequence of moves is clearly important. Our model implies that the UK moving first is optimal for both parties. This sequence is also in line with the phased approach guiding the negotiations. With uncertainty about preferences, the EU benefits from claiming to have complements preferences, irrespective of its true preferences. Uncertainty harms the UK. Nevertheless, it is worse off moving second, despite the EU’s preferences then being revealed. Also, if the EU has substitute preferences it could gain from committing to complement preference behavior. Finally, we discuss the scope for efficient bargaining taking the inefficient equilibrium points as points of departure. We note that contributions to the EU budget could potentially substitute for trade restrictions, thereby contributing to a more efficient outcome.

Keywords: Brexit; immigration; trade; sequential game

JEL-codes: F15; F22; F55

25 pages, October 27, 2017

Full text files

wp17_07.pdf PDF-file 

Download statistics

Questions (including download problems) about the papers in this series should be directed to Sten Nyberg ()
Report other problems with accessing this service to Sune Karlsson ().

This page generated on 2018-01-23 23:38:30.