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.”

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

Hall: Nigel Lawson short-sighted and reckless on EU

Fiona Hall MEPResponding to Lord Lawson’s call for the UK to leave the European Union Fiona Hall MEP, the leader of the Liberal Democrat delegation in the European parliament, commented:

 “It is absurd to suggest that we must somehow choose between trade with Europe and with the rest of the world. We are on the cusp of a game-changing trade deal between the EU and the US, worth billions of pounds to the British economy, and major trade agreements with India and Japan are also in the pipeline. To leave the EU now would be ridiculous. We would be turning our back to the global economy and jeopardising crucial trade and investment.” Continue reading