Driving political consensus for TTIP on both sides of the Atlantic: why is sealing the deal important for UK business and consumers?
This week, John Cridland is in Washington DC to drive forward the CBI’s TTIP agenda, putting emphasis on political momentum to secure the ground-breaking trade and investment deal as soon as possible.
With the ninth round of negotiations on the Trans-Atlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) just around the corner, I am in Washington DC this week to emphasise the UK business community’s position on just how important agreeing – and delivering – a deal is.
From a US investment summit, meeting with senior US government officials at the White House, through to a Congressional roundtable with US Ambassador to the UK, Matthew Barzun, my message this week will be clear: we must do everything we can to deliver a substantial and ambitious trade and investment deal without delay, aiming for political consensus by the end of 2015. This is the same message I delivered on this side of the Atlantic just before Christmas at our roundtable event where we were joined by 7 EU Prime Ministers!
Why is delivering TTIP important for businesses and consumers in the UK? As well as being an important part of the UK’s reform agenda in the EU, the UK has a long trading history with the US that has the potential to be cemented further to add at least £10 billion extra to the UK economy each year. Further to this, there are really five top reasons to support TTIP.
First, small and mid-sized companies stand to benefit the most. For every customer in the UK, there will be five more in the US to sell to. Small and medium-sized businesses are disproportionately affected by trade barriers, given they often lack the time, budget, in-house legal and supply chain experts to deal with red tape. Improving ‘speed to market’ will be critical for our high growth industries in their quest to export more.
Second, TTIP will mean more choice along with lower prices for consumers. Eradicating tariffs like import duties will bring prices down for both businesses and their consumers – this could make things like jeans £5 to £10 cheaper for shoppers. Our own export industries would thrive too – removing the 20-30% US import duties for UK clothing brands would allow more of our top labels to make it onto the shelves of stores across the US.
Thirdly, the biggest economic gains will come from tackling red tape like duplicate regulation and excessive paperwork at customs. As much as 80% of the economic benefit from TTIP is set to come from removing non-tariff barriers.
Fourthly, it will play to the UK’s strengths grabbing a bigger footprint for our world-leading services. From our engineering consultants to our specialist insurers, TTIP will allow our services economy to increase their already strong exports and will support the next wave of exciting, growing UK services companies exporting to and investing in the US.
This, which brings me to reason number five, creates jobs at home too. An EU-US trade deal can help ensure that the UK remains the global number one location for American investors. One million people are currently employed at American companies in the UK, and with TTIP providing yet another reason to invest in the UK this is only set to increase.
We mustn’t lose momentum on this critical agenda – failure to make clear steps forward over the next six months risks putting opportunities for the UK and the rest of Europe in jeopardy. We have too much to gain to let this happen.