Jo urges PM to fast track EU-US free trade deal

Joseph Johnson: In the absence of progress towards a global trade deal through the Doha round, an EU-US deal could be a decent second-best if it meaningfully reduced tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade. Can the Prime Minister give an indication of a plausible time frame for the conclusion of such a deal, and perhaps also an indication of how much the UK economy in particular might benefit from it?

The Prime Minister: I think that there is still something salvageable from the Doha round—all the elements of trade facilitation, such as helping to reduce customs times and charges, rather than the bigger Doha package—and I think that we should pursue that. We had a conversation at the end of the G8 in which we agreed to go away and look at our "issues paper" for the G20, and to establish whether there was a small enough distance to be closed between the EU and the US to make a deal worthwhile. I am very hopeful. Britain is one of the most open trading nations. There are real concerns on both sides—obviously there is a French position on agriculture, and an American position on many services and other issues—but I think that we will have a good look at this at the G20 and see whether we can fast-track it.

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