Rain

Rain

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 11°C

ESTD 1874 Search

UK: CBI chief John Cridland calls for EU-US trade deal

06:00 31 December 2012

CBI director general John Cridland

CBI director general John Cridland

Photoshot. All rights reserved.

THE UK must carve out a new global trading role for itself as part of a new, rapidly-changing European Union, CBI Director-General John Cridland says in a New Year message today.

shares

Highlighting the importance of securing a ground-breaking EU-US free trade agreement to generate long-term UK growth and boost the flat domestic economy, he called on politicians both sides of the Atlantic to seize the moment during the first 100 days of President Obama’s second term, to create a long-lasting economic legacy – and not risk looking back with regret in four or five years’ time.

The CBI says a historic US deal is vital to creating long-term, sustainable economic growth and job creation in the UK and EU. It would eliminate tariffs, liberalise goods and services, harmonise regulation, promote investment and set benchmark standards for trade in the 21st Century.

Mr Cridland said the UK could not afford to miss out on opportunities to use the EU to help rebalance the economy towards exports and create new trade deals based on its world-class reputation – in particular in financial and professional services; pharmaceuticals; and creative industries.

It comes as the CBI kickstarts a major project in the New Year to flesh out how the UK’s global role should look in a new Europe. It will examine how the UK can remain a leading location to do business globally - expanding export markets particularly for high-growth small and medium-sized firms, without losing access to the Single Market. It will report in mid-2013.

The CBI says that while the EU and US have relatively open economies, there are numerous examples of obstacles to trade across many sectors – from tariff costs and mismatched regulations, which lead to significant costs to firms on both sides:

The transatlantic chemicals industry enjoys low tariff levels, but it pays over 500 million euros in customs duties each year.

Logistics firms, when trading in the EU, must handle 27 different customs processes and costs, while pharmaceutical firms believe major cost savings would be possible with the harmonisation of packaging in both markets.

‘Unseen’ barriers such as these cost businesses across a whole range of industries, impeding the level of trade possible for US and European companies. One study identifies up to 122 billion euros in potential gains being possible for the EU every year, if those regulations that could plausibly be aligned, were (see notes to editors).

Mr Cridland argued that business leaders were pragmatists and have always adapted to new economic and political realities emerging in Europe.

But overall, they still saw the EU as a strong launchpad to project themselves globally and a basis on which to attract inward investment.

He said the UK must drive forward ongoing EU trade talks with India, Japan and rapidly growing economies.

He said businesses were clear the eurozone crisis showed that the EU needed to address huge structural reforms that it had ignored for many years – but did not want the “baby thrown out with the bathwater” - when it came to getting the UK’s future relationship with Europe right.

Mr Cridland said it was vital the UK remained at the EU table banging the drum for its national interest – shaping the agenda on Single Market reform; on climate change; protecting the financial services industry; and promoting new trade agreements.

On the subject of an EU-US free trade agreement and global trade, Mr Cridland said: “President Obama and the EU’s political leaders need to grab the bull by the horns. We need to be mature and resist the siren calls of protectionism and look long-term.

“The best way of creating jobs, promoting investment and stimulating growth is by eliminating the tariffs and harmonising the regulation which holds back businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Business leaders want to see real urgency on this in the first 100 days of Obama’s second term. We don’t want to turn around in four or five years’ time and regret not seizing this massive opportunity.

“We can’t beat around the bush – we pack a bigger punch in securing trade deals inside the EU than outside. The US wants the big prize - access to a market of 500 million customers across the EU, not just 60 million on our own shores.

“So the best way of getting the right deal for the UK is on an EU-wide basis. The EU must be the launchpad for UK business to trade with the rest of the world, carving out a new global role for ourselves.”

And on the UK’s relationship with the EU, he added: “We need to recognise and adapt to the realities of the multi-speed Europe which is emerging. The fallout in the eurozone from the debt crisis is not just forcing through rapid political and financial integration. It is also forcing all countries to fundamentally rethink the EU’s wider purpose and deal urgently with the sort of structural flaws Europe has ignored for decades.

“We must tread very carefully though. The debate about our future in Europe in 2013 must be based on an informed, hard-headed analysis of where our long-term economic and financial interests lie and business will need to make its voice heard.

“We need global trade deals to drive growth and create jobs, especially when the domestic economy is growing more slowly than required. Businesses don’t want the baby thrown out with the bathwater – not with 50% of our exports heading to Europe.

“The UK has ensured its values of free and open trade have been at the heart of Europe over the last 40 years, helping to create one of the biggest successes of the European Union – the Single Market. It’s essential we stay at the table to bang the drum for businesses and defend our national interest, particularly protecting our world-class financial services industry to maintain our competitiveness internationally.”

shares

0 comments

The water unit from the Prince's Street fire station with Ipswich with officials from the Port of Ipswich and students from Suffolk New College at the water safety demostration hosted by the port.

The Port of Ipswich teamed up with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service to stage a rescue simulation off Orwell Quay.

From left, Chris Chamberlain from HTK, Vicki Cole from Crafted and Helen Dodman from Ipswich Central, the three organisations behind the Destination Digital conference.

The company behind the delivery of the Ipswich town centre Business Improvement District project has teamed up with two local digital specialist to stage a conference on online marketing for the tourism and hospitality sectors.

French Connection has warned that it faces a substantial loss when it posts its annual results.

Fashion chain French Connection today warned that it now expects to make a big annual loss after seeing its recovery hopes dashed by a difficult spring trading period.

Andrew Harrison, managing director of Stansted Airport.

Manchester Airports Group, parent company of Stansted Airport, scored a four-star rating in Business in the Community’s 2015 CR Index.

Dominic Casserley, group chief executive of Willis.

Global risk advice and insurance broking firm Willis has launched a 550million euro (£393m) offer to take full control of the French broker Gras Savoye.

Sainsbury's is to cut 800 jobs as part of a restructuring of its store operations.

Sainsbury’s is to cut 800 jobs as it becomes the latest supermarket to restructure its operations in the face of tough trading conditions.

The CWind Sword offshore support vessel.

Colchester-based offshore service vessel manufacturer CTruk has won an order to supply two more of its MPC22 boats to sister company CWind.

Kay Allen, founder of Trading for Good, and Paul Winter, chief executive of Ipswich Building Society.

Ipswich Building Society has been presented with a Responsible Business Award at a Trading for Good East of England event held in its home town.

Savills has agreed a deal to acquire Smiths Gore.

Property services group Savills has agreed the acquisition of residential and rural agency chain Smiths Gore for an undisclosed sum.

Signage outside the Birds Eye factory in Lowestoft.

The company behind the Birds Eye frozen foods factory in Lowestoft has been sold by private equity firm Permira to a acquisition specialist based in the United States.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages