Thursday 14th of November 2013, The UK is a top trading nation. However, while the world’s economic centre of gravity has been shifting to the east, our percentage share of global trade has declined to the south. To renew our role as one of the world’s top traders, we clearly have to do more to break into high growth markets like the BRICs, Mexico and Indonesia – all countries that are predicted to have larger economies than any EU country by 2050.
But this is a long-term process that will not happen overnight. In the meantime, we cannot neglect our trade links with Europe and the United States – our most important markets of today. The US is of unparalleled importance for the UK economy – comfortably our biggest individual export market and largest source of FDI. Yet still many market access and regulatory barriers to trade remain – many of which are purely superfluous – and this acts as a brake on growth and jobs.
For the CBI and its members, it is illogical given the strength and depth of UK-US commercial ties that every day, import tariffs designed to protect markets from overseas competition are still applied on goods shipped across the Atlantic. Tariff elimination has to be a top priority in TTIP, especially given that duties are often applied at multiple stages of a single supply chain.
The transatlantic services economy is also essential to develop. Currently many key sectors like aviation, financial services, telecommunications and express delivery are being held back by longstanding trade barriers. The US and UK are the world’s leading services exporters, so British businesses in particular have a lot to gain from an ambitious approach in the services negotiations.
Finally, we need to see a sustained push to reduce regulatory barriers to trade. This applies to both goods and services sectors, and is where the real value to be derived from TTIP lies. On the basis of conservative estimates, TTIP is expected to deliver £10 billion a year to the UK economy. But this will only happen if a more conjoined approach to regulation setting can be established between EU and US regulators. We also need to see action to reduce duplicate and inconsistent regulatory requirements when they occur, building on joint industry proposals in the automotive, chemicals and pharmaceuticals sectors to name a few.
The transatlantic trade relationship is already strong, but we can make it even stronger. This is a top policy priority for the CBI, and we will remain closely engaged in the TTIP negotiations to ensure that all political efforts are centred on delivering a high quality, ambitious agreement for UK business.