The key advantage of TTIP is that a successful deal would create what would be by far the world’s most important free trade area, and would set global regulatory standards for trade on a transatlantic basis rather than our having to wait for other countries to come and set the model for us to follow.
The partnership does indeed offer great potential to Europe and the United States, but, as the Minister will know, there are fears that it could lead to a watering down of workers’ rights and environmental and social protection. What are the Government doing to ensure that that does not happen?
I am sure the hon. Gentleman is aware that considerable legal and other measures already exist on both sides of the Atlantic to secure proper protection for workers, and those matters are indeed in the minds of negotiators. However, I do not think that we should take our eyes off the enormous prize that a trade deal of this kind would represent in increasing economic growth and mutual trade on both sides of the Atlantic.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that those who campaign for us to leave the European Union would be turning their backs on a free trade area constituting some 40% of the productive wealth of the world, and that we would be unlikely to negotiate similar terms outside the Union?
I think it is true that the opportunity for a trade deal with a market of more than 500 million people in Europe as a whole is more attractive to United States negotiators than a trade deal with any single European country. Moreover, as my hon. Friend says, any member state that left the European Union would, unless alternative arrangements were negotiated, be abandoning the free trade agreements that the Union had negotiated with other countries around the world.
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will want to applaud vigorously the initiative taken by our Prime Minister through the G8 to try to secure an international agreement on a system whereby all multinational companies pay their fair share of tax, but I am also sure he will accept that that can be realised effectively only on a global basis.