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Lord Livingston comments on the third round of negotiations between the EU and US for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

The third round of negotiations between the EU and US for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership began on 16 December 2013.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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Commenting on the third round of negotiations between the EU and US for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that began on 8 July 2013 Lord Livingston, Minister for Trade and Investment said:

As far as trade negotiations go, a launch and 3 negotiating rounds in 7 months is operating at breakneck speed; reflecting the deal’s ambitious 2-year timescale and its strong political and business backing.

But let’s be clear. An EU-US deal is the biggest prize of them all. It has the potential to be the biggest free trade agreement ever, and will make exporting cheaper and easier for businesses of all sizes and regions on both sides of the Atlantic.

The potential boost from an ambitious TTIP is astounding; trade between the US and the EU accounts for about 30% of world trade. A successful deal could add as much as £10 billion to the UK economy each year, £100 billion to the EU economy and £80 billion to the US economy. The rest of the world stands to benefit by £85 billion.

The US is the EU’s largest market, and so the elimination of the small tariffs that still exist between our economies will be significant – running to about £600 million of savings for UK exporters, and cheaper products for UK consumers. But this deal is far broader than just tariffs.

The complex network of customs and border protection rules that the US applies to importers makes it difficult for some British companies, especially SMEs, to get their products into the US market. Around half of UK exports to the US are in services, and there are a wide range of important services sectors that are looking to these negotiations to address long-standing issues that restrict their ability to do business in the US. For example, UK exports of professional services are affected by the US not recognising many of our foreign legal and accounting qualifications. This makes it more difficult for British workers, including engineers and architects, to work in the US – and vice versa. I think this is not only unfair but goes against the global economy in which we operate.

This deal will look at market access, above and beyond tariffs. The US restricts the import of British lamb, eggs, ham, sausages, and a whole host of other British products that I want to open up new markets for. British airlines cannot fly passengers on US domestic flights, meaning that a British carrier that drops people off in New York, picks them up in Chicago and brings them back to London has to rely on a US partner to fly their customer from New York to Chicago. And UK online gambling firms can’t offer their services to US customers. All of this means less business for the UK, less choice for British consumers and fewer British jobs.

The UK is the strongest supporter of free trade with an economy as, or more open, than any other but the road to securing an ambitious deal will not be easy. I know that there are areas of concern about the negotiations, which is perhaps not surprising, given the scope and ambition of this deal. But I am determined to support strong and sensible regulation that protects hard working families and the environment. I am confident with hard work we can achieve this. With this deal, we are aiming to go far beyond any free trade agreement that’s come before it and it is for this reason that I welcome this week’s talks and offer them my wholehearted support.

Published 18 December 2013