Industry support for EU-US trade deal

Today’s Financial Times carries an industry letter coordinated by ICC UK underlining business support for a mooted transatlantic trade agreement. The letter comes ahead of an official report on a possible EU- US deal next week, with a political announcement now anticipated in early February.

It’s clear that a comprehensive trade agreement would bring real benefits for businesses and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic. Some studies point to possible GDP gains of around two per cent per year.

The full text of the letter is below—it can also be accessed on the FT website and in today’s print edition. Our thanks to each of the companies that supported the initiative.

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Financial Times, January 18, 2013
US-EU trade deal is an opportunity not to be missed

From Sir Martin Broughton and others.

Sir, In the coming weeks, EU and US leaders will take a decision on possible ways to enhance the transatlantic economic relationship. We, as representatives of leading European and US businesses, are writing to emphasise our support for a new and comprehensive deal to boost trade and investment flows across the Atlantic.

It is all too easy to be complacent about the strength of the EU-US economic axis: transatlantic trade and investment already constitute the largest economic relationship in the world. But there remain significant barriers that obstruct commerce between the EU and US – with real implications for growth, jobs and consumer choice. Tariff rates remain relatively high on some product lines, while differences in domestic regulation present a growing impediment to transatlantic trade. Moreover, there is room for improvement in opening up some important sectors to investment, as well as ensuring a level playing field for government procurement.

An ambitious agreement could go a long way to tackling each of these issues. Transatlantic commerce may never be entirely seamless, but recent studies point to possible gross domestic product gains of up to 2 per cent a year from eliminating some of the most significant trade barriers on both sides of the Atlantic. There is also a global dimension to this agenda: regulatory convergence between the EU and US could provide a foundation for much needed international standards in areas such as data protection, trade facilitation and food safety. Moreover, historical analysis suggests a trade-enhancing deal would spur efforts to liberalise trade elsewhere – including through the long-stalled Doha round of multilateral trade talks.

These are not opportunities that any of us – governments, businesses, consumers – can afford to miss in the current economic climate. We respectfully urge the US president and EU leaders to launch the negotiation of a transatlantic trade agreement without delay.

Sir Martin Broughton, Chairman, British Airways
Daniel J. Brutto, President, UPS International
Sir John Buchanan, Chairman, Smith & Nephew and ARM Holdings
Cynthia Carroll, CEO, Anglo American
Bob Dudley, Group Chief Executive, BP
Douglas J. Flint, Group Chairman, HSBC Holdings
Ellen J. Kullman, Chair and CEO, DuPont
Paul Manduca, Chairman, Prudential
John Nelson, Chairman, Lloyd’s of London
Jan du Plessis, Chairman, Rio Tinto
James P. Rogers, Chairman and CEO, Eastman Chemical Company
Pascal Soriot, CEO, AstraZeneca
Peter Voser, CEO, Shell