We are trading rather well with the USA – with better results than we are with the EU. Our trade with the USA is broadly in balance, whereas with the EU we run a significant trade deficit. The simple lesson of this is that you don’t need a trade agreement to trade successfully in the modern world. In fact, the EU is the USA’s largest trading partner and it doesn’t have a trade agreement. It has been trying to negotiate one for years, this proposal is called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and my constituents have emailed by the hundreds in opposition to it!
I believe that trade deals are desirable and can make things better, but the success of the world trading regime, which Britain has done so much to shape through the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs –now the World Trade Organisation, has ensured that trade is so much easier across the globe even without individual agreements between trading partner nations. Notwithstanding the fact that the EU now officially negotiates for us at the World Trade Organisation, we continue to exert a great influence on it, sending our officials and ministers to shape to its deliberations.
President Obama’s intervention is just tactic in the overall strategy of ‘project fear’. His hypocrisy is breath-taking: the USA wouldn’t for a moment contemplate subjecting its laws to the scrutiny of an external court as we have to in the EU, nor would it dream of giving up control of its borders in the way that it is expecting us to continue to do. It suits the USA to have its principal ally firmly within the EU to continue to shape it. The USA is seeking to disengage from Europe and wants to leave it in safe hands. Its focus is increasingly in the Pacific with the rise and rise of China. The President needn’t worry. We will continue to co-operate closely with European partners with whom we share an identity of interests, even when we leave the EU, and we will continue to demonstrate leadership through NATO.
Back to trading however, so, the President’s raspberry, is designed to terrify us with the prospect of having neither the USA nor the EU to trade with. It is rubbish: we will continue to trade with the USA as we do now. As for the EU, given our trade deficit, it’s very much more in their interests to continue to trade amicably. “O, but like Switzerland, we’ll have to pay the EU and accept free movement of people across borders”. Well, Switzerland is a tiny country and I’m confident that we can drive a much better bargain. Incidentally, Switzerland has capped the numbers of EU migrants. It exports 400% more to the EU per capita than we do, and for this privilege it pays only 20% per capita of what we do. If that’s the deal, let’s have one too.