A Partnership for the 21st Century


Bilateral agreement would eliminate trade barriers between U.S. and EU

Susie Kitchens, British Consul General in Boston

By Susie Kitchens

British Consul General in Boston

On a recent trip to Connecticut I couldn’t help but feel a little home comfort as I travelled past signs for places such as Windsor, Manchester, New London, and indeed New Britain. With such a rich shared history tying our two countries together, it is easy to characterise the relationship between the U.K. and New England as one of historic charm and colour. However with trade negotiations on the horizon that could bring our economies even closer, the time is ripe for looking forward, not back, to the bright future that lies ahead.

Right now the United States and the European Union (EU) are embarking on the single most ambitious bilateral trade agreement ever attempted. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will provide a significant boost to economies on both sides of the Atlantic in a deal that has already been positively welcomed by both President Obama and EU leadership.

Trade Agreement Impact

The TTIP will not only remove many of the remaining trade barriers between the two largest economies in the world but also represents the single largest opportunity for growth in trade between our two economies in well over a decade. As Prime Minister David Cameron neatly summarises, “The transatlantic economic relationship is already the world’s largest, accounting for half of global economic output and nearly one trillion dollars in goods and services trade, supporting millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.”

For a competitive state such as Connecticut, with four of its top ten export markets located in the EU, the impact of TTIP will be significant. Many of Connecticut’s businesses and industries will benefit from the elimination of tariffs that are currently swallowed as the cost of doing business with Europe.

Although tariffs are, in general, already low, the sheer volume of trade means that their collective elimination would translate into significant cost savings that in the future can be ploughed into new production, encouraging new growth and generating further job creation. Additionally, companies of all sizes will be spared the headache of working to nonaligned regulatory standards: In many industries, TTIP will create a coherent set of regulatory standards: or recognition by the EU and U.S. of each other’s standards: helping to set trading standards for the world.

The U.K. has been instrumental in putting an EU/U.S. free trade agreement on the agenda. The British government pressed the case and supported the establishment of the EU/U.S. High-Level Working Group in 2011.

Demonstrating his commitment to these negotiations, Prime Minister Cameron has asserted, “Breaking down the remaining trade barriers and securing a comprehensive deal will require hard work and bold decisions on both sides. But I am determined to use my chairmanship of the G8 to help achieve this and to help European and American businesses succeed in the global race.”

As the representative for Her Majesty’s Government here in New England, it is now my mission to put these words into action by raising awareness and garnering support from vital stakeholders in business, politics, and academia. That is why I am keen to engage with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. In order for this agreement to succeed, negotiators will need the vociferous support of the business community to keep their focus on what the benefits of reduced trade barriers would mean for businesses and consumers alike.

The British Consulate General in Boston represents the U.K. government in New England across political, commercial, security, and economic areas of interest to the U.K. and New England states.

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