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Richard Tunnicliffe - Global trade can deliver truly local benefits

09:00 13 January 2013

Richard Tunnicliffe, East of England regional director, CBI. 2008

Richard Tunnicliffe, East of England regional director, CBI. 2008

As we all grapple with our new year’s resolutions, Britain, as a country, is not excluded from this annual ritual of self-improvement.

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With the twin opportunities of a newly mandated President Obama and a G8 summit in Northern Ireland this June, it is clear to the CBI that Britain’s resolution must be to carve out a new global trading role for herself; learning lessons from the eurozone crisis and the credit crunch.

A groundbreaking EU-US free trade agreement to generate long-term UK growth and boost the flat domestic economy is a vital priority for British interests in 2013. Politicians both sides of the Atlantic must seize the moment during the first 100 days of President Obama’s second term, to create a long-lasting economic legacy – and not risk looking back with regret in four or five years’ time.

A historic US deal is vital to creating long-term, sustainable economic growth and job creation in the UK and EU.

Such a deal would eliminate tariffs, liberalise goods and services, harmonise regulation, promote investment and set benchmark standards for trade in the 21st century.

The UK can simply not afford to miss out on opportunities to use the EU to help rebalance the economy towards exports, and create new trade deals based on its world-class reputation – in particular in financial and professional services; pharmaceuticals; and creative industries.

To support this agenda, the CBI is to launch a major project to flesh out how the UK’s global role should look in a new Europe. It will examine how the UK can remain a leading location to do business globally.

It will report in mid-2013.

For the East of England, it is clear that global trade truly can deliver massive local benefits.

President Obama and the EU’s political leaders need to grab the bull by the horns and embrace this reform agenda.

The best way of creating jobs, promoting investment and stimulating growth is by eliminating tariffs and harmonising the regulation which holds back businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.

After the pomp and circumstance of the President’s inauguration are over on the 21 January, business leaders want to see real urgency on this in the early days of Obama’s second term.

Unlike diets or pledges of abstinence, this is one resolution Britain cannot afford to break.

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