Stephen worked closely with key policymakers, bringing his research expertise to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Africa. His essay ‘UK Africa Trade within and outside the EU’, was key to their 2017 report, which was cited in parliamentary debates.
Also in 2017, after providing written evidence for a White Paper on future trade policies, Stephen was invited to take part in a policy roundtable discussion at the Department for International Trade. Thanking him for his input, organisers declared that his focus on the EU’s trade and development policy to African countries, ‘helped us gain a better understanding of the issues and will inform our future policy’.
As part of a House of Commons Select Committee inquiry in December 2017, Stephen argued for a unilateral trade arrangement offering preferences for African exports to the UK. As well as spurring economic development in African countries, this would align with the UK’s obligation to deliver on its commitments to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Stephen also challenged thinking at an EU-level. In July 2018, he was invited to the European Parliament in Brussels, to speak as the only academic expert at a Commonwealth Forum roundtable meeting. A number of African diplomats attended the discussion and many were supportive of Stephen’s analysis and in particular, the critique of the assumed benefits of free trade for African development.