WTO chief warns UK over EU exit

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandRoberto Azevêdo, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization, has warned that Britain may risk losing influence in trade negotiations if it were to quit the EU during a hearing this morning at the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee.

In response to a question from Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, who asked what impact leaving the EU would have on the UK’s place within the WTO, Mr Azevêdo stated:

“I think that’s a call that the UK will have to make for itself.”

“But of course, the more that a country or a member is in a position to join with others in defending a particular idea or defending a particular agenda, the easier it is to push through its interests.”

Ms Bearder, Liberal Democrat Trade Spokeswoman in the European Parliament, commented:

“UKIP and many Tories claim we can just pull out of Europe and trade using WTO rules, but now even the head of the WTO has turned round and said we are better off staying in.”

“Being part of the world’s largest trading bloc allows us to get a better deal for Britain and to open up new markets for our businesses overseas.”

“Liberal Democrats are the party of In Europe because In is good for jobs, the economy and Britain’s influence on the world stage.”

A number of leading British business organisations have previously spoken out to emphasise the benefits that EU membership brings when it comes to global trade negotiations.

In a report in November 2013, the CBI stated that “the EU has helped open global markets to UK firms on terms that support its trading ambitions, through its leading role in global trade negotiations.”

Meanwhile the EEF manufacturers’ association has stated following a 2013 survey of its members that “UK manufacturers recognise the benefits a strong EU voice in global trade agreements and disputes brings to UK exporters…There is no support for the UK to tackle trade negotiations alone, not least because of the concerns that a deal with the UK would be a lower priority for countries that are currently agreeing deals on a multilateral basis.”

The Scotch Whisky Association has also stressed that “the EU is vital to the industry’s long term sustainability, both as an internal market and as a strong voice in international trade negotiations.”

Catherine Bearder MEP: Arms Treaty must receive more global cooperation

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandThe ratification of the United Nation’s Arms Treaty by the European Parliament this week is welcomed news for those campaigning for better control over the trade of arms. Last year world leaders voted by a large majority to pass the treaty which prohibits states from exporting conventional weapons in violation of arms embargoes, or weapons that would be used for acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or terrorism.

MEPs backed several recommendations calling for the EU to take a leading role in the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty; including the provision to closely monitor the progress made by nations through close cooperation between governments.

Catherine Bearder, Liberal Democrat MEP for South East said:

“After a long diplomatic process, I am very pleased that we have reached the stage where we can turn our words into action and turn the Arms Trade Treaty into action. However, the treaty has still not been agreed to by both China and Russia who export large amounts of arms every year. Until we receive their support, we will lack a global solution to a truly global issue”

“The Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for a universal arms treaty in order to create a safer world in which dangerous weapons do not fall into the wrong hands. By working alongside our EU partners, we can work to prevent future lives being lost from the irresponsible trading in arms”

Bearder/ Ludford: MEPs set to back job creating EU-US trade talks

On Thursday MEPs in Strasbourg are set to adopt their recommendations for the forthcoming EU-US free trade negotiations.

The EU and US together represent about half (47%) of the global economy and 30% of global trade. According to government figures, a free trade agreement between these economic powerhouses could be worth between £4-10bn a year to the UK economy.

South East MEP Catherine Bearder, the Liberal Democrat European spokesperson on trade, commented ahead of tomorrow’s historic vote:

“An EU-US trade deal would open up and increase economic activity on both sides of the Atlantic. Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament and in government in the UK are concentrating our efforts on pushing for a speedy conclusion of negotiations to strengthen the European economy and bring new private sector jobs into the UK.”  Continue reading

BEARDER: Ban pesticides which could harm bees

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandThe Government has been branded “beyond complacent” after it stalled on banning chemicals which could damage bees.

Catherine Bearder, a Lib Dem MEP for the South East of England, is backing calls to suspend the use of neonicotinoids amid fears of the impact on the bee population.

Members of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee have demanded a moratorium on use of the chemicals.

However, the UK Government is still unconvinced and is asking the European Commission to launch a major study to settle the debate.

But Catherine said: “This is beyond complacent. Britain cannot continue to flap around on the issue. We all know how important bees are to our biodiversity. Continue reading

Bearder: MAKE IT A FAIRTRADE EASTER WITH #TRAFFIKFREE CHOCOLATE

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandShopkeepers and supermarkets are being urged to make sure shelves are stocked with Easter eggs made with traffick-free chocolate.

South East MEP Catherine Bearder is supporting charity Stop the Traffik’s campaign calling on shops to make sure the Easter eggs they sell are not made using child labour.

She said: “Despite the hard work of groups such as Stop the Traffik, it is still tricky to buy Easter Eggs which are Fairtrade. I think the change will only happen with pressure from shoppers. Continue reading

Ludford/ Bearder: EU-US trade deal unique opportunity to boost jobs and growth

Liberal Democrat MEPs have welcomed the launch of negotiations over a comprehensive trade deal between the EU and US earlier today.

 Sarah Ludford MEP, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s US Delegation, commented:

“The US is the EU’s most important trading partner and a hugely valuable economic partner for Britain. A transatlantic free trade deal will give a great boost to jobs and growth in both EU and the US. With such benefits on offer, this is hardly the time for the UK to exclude itself from EU leadership.” Continue reading