The UK must carve out a new global trading role for itself as part of a rapidly-changing European Union, CBI director-general John Cridland warned today.
In his New Year message, he outlined the importance of securing a ground-breaking EU-US free trade agreement to generate long-term UK growth and boost the flat domestic economy.
He called on politicians on both sides of the Atlantic to seize the moment during the first 100 days of President Obama’s second term, to create a long-lasting economic legacy and not risk looking back with regret in four or five years.
The CBI said a historic US deal was vital to creating long-term, sustainable economic growth and job creation in the UK and EU.
It said a deal would eliminate tariffs, liberalise goods and services, harmonise regulation, promote investment and set benchmark standards for trade in the 21st century.
Mr Cridland said the UK could not afford to miss out on opportunities to use the EU to help rebalance the economy towards exports and create new trade deals based on its world-class reputation – in particular in financial and professional services, pharmaceuticals and creative industries.
“President Obama and the EU’s political leaders need to grab the bull by the horns. We need to be mature and resist the siren calls of protectionism and look long-term. The best way of creating jobs, promoting investment and stimulating growth is by eliminating the tariffs and harmonising the regulation which holds back businesses on both sides of the Atlantic,” said Mr Cridland.
“Business leaders want to see real urgency on this in the first 100 days of Obama’s second term. We don’t want to turn around in four or five years’ time and regret not seizing this massive opportunity.”
The CBI will kickstart a project in the new year to flesh out how the UK’s global role should look in a new Europe.
It will examine how the UK can remain a leading location to do business globally, expanding export markets particularly for high-growth small and medium-sized firms, without losing access to the single market.