Plan now for EU-USA trade opportunities

UK businesses should start creating export strategies now in anticipation of major new opportunities being created by USA-EU trade agreement talks.

A lead associate at Chamber International, Mike Strawson, says that the global economic climate creates an imperative for agreement to be reached in the talks and that it would create very significant new export opportunities for UK enterprises.

Mike Strawson was speaking after addressing an audience of exporting businesses, members of UKTI and representatives of the Foreign and Common wealth office and US State Department at a special Trade Talks event hosted by the British-American Business Council (BABC) Yorkshire at DWF LLP, Leeds, on July 12.

He said that although trade talks are only just underway and no new treaty is expected before the end of 2014, British businesses wanting to export to the USA should start taking advice and developing strategies now.

The 28 EU members and USA represent 50% of global economic output, 30% of global trade and 20% of direct foreign investment. Expectations are that a treaty would boost trade between the two market areas by £66bn a year with £10bn coming to the UK – about £380 per household.

Whereas the USA stands to gain a massive 13.4% per capita from any treaty and the expected EU gain will be five per cent, it is ‘well worth having’ in terms of overseas trade in a flat domestic market, Mike Strawson told a 40-strong audience.

He said: ”British industry must start detailed consideration about the export opportunities likely to arise from these talks. Companies wanting to take greater advantage of the US market should talk with Chamber International or UKTI and start to get a detailed strategy in place.

“The potential opportunities are considerable. The UK and USA share the same language, which removes a common exporting hurdle, and people in the USA love British goods.

“However, British companies must avoid the trap of thinking that the US is one vast market. It is many very different economic and cultural regions which create their own complexities and they should take advice from experts who have done it successfully before and can help them to achieve their objectives.”

The BABC Yorkshire meeting heard that although an EU-US Trade Treaty could help boost both economies significantly, many hurdles must be overcome before agreement is reached.

Mike Strawson added: ”One is the need to create a regulatory harmony between the USA and EU over issues such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food safety, intellectual property rights and US protectionist policy for sectors such as such as cotton growing.

Mike Strawson adds: “A strong message from the meeting was that there must be transparency about the talks. Although there will be regular UK government updates, the overriding view was that the talks must be driven by the views of industry which is at the sharp edge of exporting.

“Chamber International and the wider UK chamber movement will be happy to act as a conduit, getting industry’s concerns passed onto the people involved with the trade talks which could herald an important new economic era.”

Other speakers included US Chamber of Commerce, Brussels, Peter Chase; KPMG director of  public policy, David Garner; managing director of British American Business, London, Jeffries Briginshaw; UPS public affairs director, Richard Currie; minister-counselor for economic affairs, US Embassy, London, Julie Nutter and senior commercial specialist, US commercial services, US Embassy, London, Richard Stanbridge.

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