In February 2013, two of the world’s economic giants, the United States of America and the European Union, took a momentous step towards a more prosperous future. The beginning of negotiations (agreed February 13th) on an EU-US Trade Agreement follows on from the call to President Obama by the EU’s Trade Commissioner for urgent action. If passed, this agreement will bring multitudinous benefits for both global superpowers. It will make us richer, and it will make us more secure.
Much is said about the growing economic importance of China, and a lot of that is justified. Yet total US investment in the EU is three times higher than their investment not just in China, but in all of Asia. Meanwhile, EU investment in the US is eight times higher than our investment in India and China. Together, the Euro-American duopoly accounts for around half of global GDP. Looking at these statistics, it is no wonder that Barack Obama identified the EU-US Trade Agreement in this year’s State of the Union Address as a high priority.
Economists at the US Chamber of Commerce predict that if an ambitious and comprehensive agreement is agreed, and trade further liberalised, European and American output would rise by 1.5-2%. It would boost two-way trade by $120 billion (£70 billion) within five years and add $180 billion (£120 billion) to the new bloc’s combined GDP. It would be, in summary, enormously beneficial to Britain- that is, if Britain remains in Europe.
My Liberal Democrat colleague in London, Sarah Ludford MEP, has said regarding the Agreement that ‘with such benefits on offer, this is hardly the time for the UK to exclude itself from EU leadership’. I entirely agree. The Obama administration has already expressed its concern that Britain might walk away from its influential role in Brussels’ decision-making. As the EU-US Trade Agreement illustrates, Britain’s choice is not America or Europe- the choice is between America and Europe, or the disastrous economic and political isolation favoured by UKIP and the Tory right.
Phil Bennion MEP