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Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 4th March 2014.

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Photo of Nadine Dorries Nadine Dorries Conservative, Mid Bedfordshire 11:30 am, 4th March 2014

What recent progress has been made on the transatlantic trade and investment partnership; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

TTIP is this country’s top trade policy priority, worth up to £10 billion a year for the UK. Negotiations are progressing well and our ambition remains to conclude the deal next year.

Photo of Nadine Dorries Nadine Dorries Conservative, Mid Bedfordshire

Does the Minister agree that TTIP provides an ideal opportunity to look at having a US free trade agreement based on sovereign states and not on political integration, as well at as our relationship with Europe?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

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.

Photo of Mark Lazarowicz Mark Lazarowicz Labour, Edinburgh North and Leith

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?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

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.

Photo of Robert Walter Robert Walter Conservative, North Dorset

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?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

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.

Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

Will the Minister ensure in the negotiations that the multinationals pay their proper tax in this country, notwithstanding some of the things that have happened in the past?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

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.